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Dangerous Divide: Life In The Korean DMZ

Aired September 21, 2003 - 18:00   ET


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN special "Dangerous Divide: About Life In The Korean DMZ" start right now.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Martin Savidge inside the DMZ between North and South Korea. It has been called the scariest place on Earth where war could come almost at any time, day or night as two massive armies face off across a very tense border.

For the next 60 minutes you are going to see the DMZ as never before through images in many cases that have never been broadcast. You'll see the hazards, the humor, the bizarreness and even the beauty, all the while walking in the soldiers who guard this dangerous divide.

ANNOUNCER: This is a CNN special presentation.

ANNOUNCER: These soldiers are about to go hunting for North Korean infiltraters in the DMZ. I'm about to take you where no television camera has ever followed.

ANNOUNCER: A landscape of nightmares. A wasteland where tensions are high and life is cheap.

Crossing the military border dividing North and South Korea is rarely advisable, maybe because you could get shot.

ANNOUNCER: A holding ground, a haunting ground between two old enemies locked in a stalemate for a half a century.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost a demonstration of your mental and physical toughness, always out here.

ANNOUNCER: A dividing line where hostility can be reawakened by a single shot. Geographically it's a blink in the side of mankind but it's like no place else on Earth. Join us as Marty Savidge takes you into "The Dangerous Divide."

SAVIDGE: This is probably the most widely recognizable backdrop in all of the DMZ, Panmunjom. We're standing on what's called conference row looking in the direction of North Korea. The MDL or Military Demarcation Line, the border, runs right through the center of this entire complex.

In fact, if you look that way you can sort of see that it's about 25 feet away. Anything beyond that is North Korea. Including the guards which depending on their camera shyness, you may or may not be able to see, dressed in their Soviet era military uniforms. The blue buildings here are used as a neutral meeting site between North Korea, South Korea and the United States.

The Korean War came to a halt 50 years ago but it never officially ended. There was no peace agreement that was signed. Only an armistice and it was that armistice that created the DMZ and this meeting site to allow military officers to come and talk to one another rather than shoot at one another.

As simple as this place may seem, the truth is it has worked. And for over 50 years that ten was truce has been strained, but never broken.

One of the unique aspects of this place is that no where else along the entire DMZ do the two former enemy comes as close as they do here. And no where else in the DMZ will you find U.S. and South Korean soldiers serving and standing side by side.

Unique place, also has some unique rules. For instance I'm not allowed to gesture tour or point towards the north. And there is not allowed to be any conversation out in the open between the two sides. And as a civilian standing here there is a dress code I have to follow. For instance, I'm not allowed to wear blue jeans. Strict rules give you an indication of just how tense things are. That the slightest step out of line could have potentially disastrous consequences.

Looking for trouble or watching for it here as they do, is one thing, but actually going out in search of trouble, well, that's a different matter. Yet, that's exactly what the patrols do. Here's an exclusive look at a patrol on the hunt in the DMZ.

These soldiers are about to go hunting for North Korean infiltraters in the DMZ. I'm about to take you where no television camera has ever followed. U.S. forces guard only four miles of the 151 mile long demilitarized zone, but their sector has seen some of the most violent confrontations with North Korea. The patrols are regular, but never considered routine.

Since the Korean War ended 50 years ago, 1300 soldiers have died along the DMZ, 90 of them American.

The men move out into a steady rain. Their route will take them past two North Korean observation posts. The soldiers want to be seen flexing U.S. military muscle. Silence is critical. The only communication is by hand. Out here, the soldiers have a whole laundry list of things to think about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taking mortar fire, taking small arms fire, getting ambushed.

SAVIDGE: An ambush would be easy here. As the patrol moves into the tree line, the underbrush is so thick it threatens to swallow them. The men will tell you they don't worry but that their families back home do. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife, my daughter and my mother.

SAVIDGE: Do they know you're going on a patrol?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not right now, sir.

SAVIDGE: The soldiers edge within a few feet of the military demarcation line. But with no fence, and only a few old signs, it's hard to tell. And one step in the wrong direction would put them in North Korea, tempting an international incident that could quickly escalate.

This is said to be peak season for North Korean soldiers trying to sneak south and this is the area they would most likely cross. The men settle in to watch and listen.

In the end, no one is found. And in a sense that may be the clearest indication these patrols work. Silently sending a very loud message to the 1.1 million North Korean soldiers watching from the other side. A message that has prevented war for 50 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just a show of force. You stay on your line and we'll stay on ours. Not to provoke anything, but just to keep that line solid, that they know their place and we know ours.

SAVIDGE: The DMZ is one of the most unique and certainly one of the most famous dividing lines in all the world. It was created 50 years ago to separate the two warring sides kind of like a referee stepping in to break up a fight.

It's not a straight line. It meanders and wanders all the way through the center of the Korean peninsula. It may surprise you to know there is no fence along the heart of the DMZ. In fact, it's wide open. Seemingly it looks like you could cross from one side to the other.

We don't suggest you try. You risk being shot, blown up by mines, or at the very least being arrested. But if you do choose to cross the DMZ you also risk something else. All out war.

War in Korea would not be an Afghanistan. It would not be an Iraq. It would be a killing field the likes of which the modern world has never seen.

MICHAEL O'HAMLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: You could talk about 20, 30,000 people killed and more than 100,000 wounded in the first few hours of the war alone.

SAVIDGE: The last war in Korea killed nearly 2 million people, including 37,000 Americans. Today, nearly 2 million troops stare at one another across a dangerous divide with their fingers on hair triggers. It is the greatest concentration of military force on the planet. And they're ready to fight tonight. The only thing stopping them is a thin line that has held for half a century, the DMZ.

The demilitarized zone is 2.5 miles wide, 151 miles long, dividing North and South Korea roughly along the 38th parallel. Its essentially the front lines where the Korean War of the 1950s finally halted with the signing of an armistice.

As the name implies, there are no heavy troop concentrations aloud here. They wait just outside. No tanks, no artillary, not even machine guns. Patrolling the DMZ is the job of 500 soldiers from each side.

Though 37,000 American troops are stationed in Korea to help prevent another North Korean invasion, only a few hundred regularly serve at the DMZ alongside South Korean soldiers. But their small area of responsibility is the critical heart of the DMZ known as the JSA, or joint security area.

LT. COL. MATT MARGOTTA, CMDR. JOINT SECURITY BATTALLION: The joint security area was established based upon the armistice agreement and it still exists today as a location or forum where talks between the two sides can go on.

SAVIDGE: Those talks often take place at Panmunjom in the JSA, inside buildings T1, T2 and T3. The T stands for temporary. They've been here 50 years.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have ratcheted significantly in the last year as North Korea admitted to restarting a nuclear weapons program, a design the U.S. says it cannot and will not tolerate. President Bush has labeled North Korea a part of an axis of evil.

If war resumes in Korea, either by accident or design, the DMZ would be the first place to see it, and the last hope for stopping it.

Still to come in our exclusive look at the DMZ, just why are these American soldiers crossing over the line into North Korea? We'll give you the facts. And then later...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say that they hate us.

SAVIDGE: Mental battle along the DMZ.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let us pray that peace be restored to the war.

SAVIDGE: When Japan surrended at the end of World War II, Tokyo's 35 year colonial rule over Korea ended. The peninsula was split in half along the 38th parrallel. The Soviet Union controlled the north, the United States the south.

It was meant to be temporary. But by 1948, two separate nations emerged with opposing political philosophies and economies. 55 years later, that's still the case.


SAVIDGE: This is the inside of building T2. It is used by North Korean, South Korean and U.S. officials as a neutral meeting place. The border runs through the middle of road. In fact it runs right through the middle of this table. There's a North Korean entrance and a South Korean entrance. And this room has been the scene of some of the gratest psychological battles of the DMZ.

For instance, in one story, the North Koreans reportedly came into the room before a big meeting and sawed down the legs of the chairs of the U.S. officials. So that when the Americans came in and sat down, they looked a bit like small kids at the kitchen table. Pretty tiny.

In another story, the North Koreans reportedly showed up, suspected of having automatic weapons hidden under their winter coats. The South Koreans instead of filing a protest turned up the thermostat raising the temperature of the room to something like the sahara, forcing the North Koreans to be soaked in their own sweat.

On a southern side of the room is a television camera that monitors this place 24 hours a day and it, too, has seen some interesting things such as what happened two years ago in these photographs. In the first one, a North Korean guard is seen plucking a small American flag off a shelf. In the second photo he then uses that flag to polish his boots. And then he puts the flag back. Since then, the American flag has been replaced with a decal permanently glued to the wall.

Here, crossing the border is as easy as walking across the room. But if you think that's the only way to go north, no, we found something you probably had never even thought of.

Crossing the military border dividing North and South Korea is rarely advisable. Mainly because you could get shot. But on conference row at Panmunjom over three days we watched three ways it can be done. First, you could be dead. As was the case of a North Korean swept down a rain swollen river his body ending up in the south. The pallbearers never cross the line. Only the casket makes the journey passing from southern into northern hands.

The second way is to be a tourist. Building T2 is used a neutral meeting place between North Korea, South Korea, and the United States. The border runs right through the middle of it. With just a few steps, visitors can rightfully earn the boast they were in the north.

North Korea has its own tourists and both sides share the same ride room, just never at the same time. To make sure there is no conflict, South Korean guards first inspect the room before their tours go in. The North Korean entry door must be locked from the inside. One guard braces himself against a wall while hanging on to the second who throws the lock. This is done to prevent North Korean guards from trying to grab a South Korean guard. Now, if you think that was interesting, wait until you see what happens next.

Now, if you think that was interesting, wait till you see what happens next. The third and most unusual way to cross the border, the repair job. Last year to improve communications between the two, North Korea was given a fax machine. Prior to that, only way they could talk was over this old Russian field phone. But every now and then the fax machine needs to be serviced. And that's what has U.S. soldiers doing the unthinkble, stepping over the line into North Korea.

If not for the seriousness of the situation it might sound like a joke. How many men does it take to fix a North Korean fax machine? Five, one to repair it, another to translate and three to guard. Several minutes later the fax is fixed, and the Americans step back.

In the DMZ, life is sort of a new twist of an old saying. When it comes to crossing the line, the only thing certain are death and faxes.

When you're here in Panmunjom you quickly have to get used to the feeling you're being watched because you are. Here, staring isn't considered to be rude but part of the job in the daily faceoff between the two former enemies.

This next story we like to call, if looks could kill. South Korean soldiers prepare for battle in the DMZ. It is a fight where the only weapon is a pair of eyes. And the only thing shot is a glance. The DMZ stretches 150 miles separating North and South, but no where else to the two sides come as close as they do here in Panmunjom. Literally separated by only inches, 16 inches, of concrete.

Soldiers who serve on the southern side are handpicked to be imposing. The minimum height for Americans is 6 feet. South Koreans must be at least 5'8. That's two inches taller than average in their country. South Korean guards stand in a martial arts stance. Their bodies only half exposed to the north making them less of a target. Across the way, the North Korean soldiers are said to be the best fed in a nation that has suffered year of famine. But a number of them still look gaunt and drawn. They often stand sideways facing each other.

MAJ. JOHN RING, JOINT SECURITY BATTALION: The reason for that is if one of those soldiers decides he wants to defect, the other soldiers' duty is to shoot that soldier and prevent him from defecting.

SAVIDGE: Tensions rise during official meetings on the DMZ as more guards comes out. North Korean soldiers occupy a nearby building which American soldiers have called the monkey house, referring to how the guards inside peek out. U.S. officers suspect the building houses heavy weapons, which are outlawed under DMZ rules. Looking for possible violation of the armistice is a favorite pasttime of both sides here. Cameras sprout almost everywhere adding eyes that never blink.

The weather may change, but not the dangerous game. American soldiers bring their own level of psychological warfare, unlike the South Koreans they prefer not to wear sun glasses to hide their eyes. They don't wear rain coats in the rain or winter coats in the snow. Believing that projects weakness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost a demonstration of your mental and physical toughness always out here.

SAVIDGE: Whether the American tactic earns North Korean respect isn't clear, but U.S. soldiers believe they have earned something else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd say that they hate us. You can see it in their eyes when they look at us.

SAVIDGE: At Panmunjom if looks could kill, the body you can't on both sides would be high. Still to come on dangerous divide, DMZ settles into another night.

Also ahead, why endangered species find the DMZ to be the safest place on earth.

The number of North defecters has risen steadily since the early 1990s. Most escape through China using international embassies and missions as refuge. In march of last year, 25 North Koreans forced their way into the Spanish embassy in Beijing seeking political asylum. The six families and two orphan girls dressed in western clothing to look less conspicuous. The Chinese government has allowed many to enter South Korea by way of the Philippines.


SAVIDGE: We brought you now to observation post Ouellette. It's From here that U.S. and South Korean soldiers can look for several miles into North Korea looking for any signs of trouble any kind of military buildup. In other words, for any kind of heads up about the possibility of war.

During the day it may seen routine, even dull. But after the sun goes down here, almost anything seems possible. Here, over 40 men live for ten days at a time just a few yards from North Korea. For the first time ever our camera followed one night in their lives.

Observation post Ouellette sits 50 feet from North Korea in the DMZ. Here the monsoon season has lingered late, shrouding the hilltop forest in midst and drenching rain. The weather hampers the view north, exactly the kind of conditions an attacker would want.

If war were to come, then the 45 U.S. soldiers living here would be the first to fight it. North Korea has an army of over 1 million. At sun down, every man picks up a gun and heads to his post. Trudging through blacked out, underground tunnels, to bunkers so dark the soldiers can barely be seen through a night scope. For an hour they will wait, watch, and listen.

But tonight, the only thing coming over the wire is propaganda, blasted from the north. The DMZ settles in to another night. So do the men of the outpost, standing down from their defensive positions they catch up on work, watch TV, or call home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you got like half an hour before you get there? SAVIDGE: In a small barracks laundry is getting done and lessons are being learned. Most U.S. soldiers stay just 12 months in Korea. That cycle means there's always a new guy. Private Michael Bane arrived yesterday. Private Martin Camtoon is considered a veteran at eight months.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was tough when I first got here but everybody kind of helped me out.

SAVIDGE: Do you ever think about where you are, so close to North Korea?


SAVIDGE: In what way?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I mean, if we are the first ones that are going to know if anything happens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mamma bear is worried but that's a motherly instinct.

SAVIDGE: Overhead in the main observation tower, the lookouts, PFC's Myers and Dottie (ph) have concerns of their own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Visibility sucks.

SAVIDGE: They struggle to see and stay focused.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't say things get mundane but they do get repetitive.

SAVIDGE: Down below the roving guards have problems as well. Soaked to the skin they refuse rain coats prefering to walk to stay warm. Beneath their feet, Lieutenant James Gleason is still up after midnight. His thoughts aren't of the soldiers to the north but the ones under his command.

RING: That's the biggest on my mind, my soldiers' welfare. Finding out what really makes them tick and what I can do to help them out.

SAVIDGE: His men rest in shifts but the outpost never sleeps. Outpost Ouellette and the men inside make it through another night. A small victory for peace in a war that never really ended.

Coming up next on "The Dangerous Divide," we will take you to a South Korean village that has a most unusual night life. And later, why are U.S. forces here? Anti-American sentiment in South Korea is growing. Many young people say the United States and not North Korea is the enemy. What happened?

ANNOUNCER: North korea celebrates its 55th birthday this month marking the public holiday with military fanfare and huge gymnastics displays. North korea boasts the fifth largest military in the world, with over 1 million active forces and another 7.5 million reservists. The government spends over 30 percent of its gross domestic product on the military reaching $5.1 billion each year.



SAVIDGE (voice-over): You are looking at the village of Tae Song Dong, located just across the border in North Korea. The South Koreans call it propaganda village saying that it was built in the 1950s purposely to look appealing in the hopes of luring South Korean soldiers north. There was a time in the '60s and '70s it actually worked when South Korea's economy was just beginning and the north was doing pretty good. Now, the north isn't doing so good.

(on camera): Occasionally you only see farmers in the field and at night barely a light burns there. This is also the spot where you hear the interesting battle of the propaganda broadcasts. Both sides do it.

The North Koreans tend to play classical music and operas mixed in with fiery speeches. The South Koreans sort of have an up tempo kind of elevator music. I tend to like the North Korean music a little better but, the battle of the propaganda broadcasts isn't the only unusual thing to be found here.

(voice-over): At first look the village of Tae Song Dong seems like one of the most peaceful places on earth. Even after the sun goes down no one locks their doors yet no one dares leave their home, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

In this rural town it's pepper season. Farmers busily pick then drive the spicy crop before grinding it into seasoning. It is part of the flavor of rural life in this South Korean village that boasts a city hall, a school, small houses on small streets and the largest flag in South Korea.

Oops, there I go again. Anyway, like any small town the hot topic at the dinner table is the weather.

"If it keeps raining frequently like this I don't think we'll have a good harvest," the town's mayor tells me.

It's only when you take a walk to the pagoda on the outskirts of town that the nightlife, the flag, and the dangers sink in.

(on camera): That is North Korea. This is the DMZ and by now you should have probably figured out the problem.

(voice-over): Tae Song Dong, population 226, is the only South Korean village allowed to exist in the DMZ, which explains why, while the farmer is out protecting his field with pesticide, armed soldiers stand by protecting the farmer.

For these people it seems perfectly normal to be living between the two massive armies of North and South Korea constantly poised for war and the villagers are encouraged to stay by a number of perks. They're allowed to farm twice as much land as traditional South Korean farmers do earning them twice the salary, about $82,000 a year, and their sons are exempt from South Korea's mandatory military service.

But each night the villagers must live under a strict curfew confining them to their homes from 11:00 p.m. until dawn. And, every day they face the chance that they could be forced to leave at a moment's notice if trouble erupted along the border, a process they practice every six months.

"Outsiders might think that we live in a very dangerous place," he says, "but we don't think it's dangerous at all."

It would be easy to believe the mayor as you watch the sunset listening to the music if only you didn't know it pours from North Korean propaganda speakers less than a mile away.

(on camera): People aren't the only ones living in the DMZ, which is what brings us here to Checkpoint 3, a South Korea observation post and it's from here you can look out on a section of the DMZ and what strikes you most is not the danger but the unspoiled beauty.

Ironically, if you were here at sunset you'd probably think it was one of the most peaceful places on earth and it's also here that you realize that the creation of the DMZ had an unexpected side effect and it could eventually prove to be the DMZ's greatest legacy.

(voice-over): You are watching what few civilians have ever seen, white Chinese cranes drifting in the evening sky over the DMZ. Carried on the same gentle breeze that brings North Korean propaganda music sound the birds move freely. The music blares from a land where freedom is almost unknown. The DMZ is a land of contradictions. It is one of the world's most dangerous places that also has become one of the world's safest havens for nature.

KWI-GON KIM, SEOUL NATIONAL UNIV.: I was so amazed by nature which was not disturbed by human beings.

SAVIDGE: Professor Kwi-Gon Kim was the first naturalist ever allowed into the South Korean side of the DMZ in 1996. He documented over 1,000 species of animals, plants, and insects many of which could be rarely found anywhere else. In seven years of study since that number has grown.

KIM: Almost 2,800 species of animals and plants which live in this area.

SAVIDGE (on camera): That's an amazing number.

KIM: Yes, amazing number.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): The work hasn't been easy. He's had to overcome military bureaucracy and avoid the DMZ's inherent dangers.

KIM: (Unintelligible) right after raining I feel very dangerous.

SAVIDGE (on camera): Why?

KIM: Because the landmines.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): But what he sees is worth the risk. Nearly 1,000 square miles make up the DMZ and the military area around it. It is the largest swath of undeveloped land in all of South Korea. For half a century is has been almost entirely off limits to humans and modern intervention.

Professor Kim believes it is a treasure not just for Korea but the world and in another contradiction he fears peace could be its greatest threat. Like most South Koreans, he yearns for the day North and South are reunited.

KIM: But there is some worries about the keeping DMZ ecosystem as it is.

SAVIDGE: He's concerned economic pressure will force the land to change. Farms and factories could lay siege to nature. Instead, he dreams of the DMZ becoming a nature preserve dedicated to peace, a place where everyone, not just soldiers, can watch the white Chinese cranes fly free.

(on camera): After the break we'll take you just down the way a bit to a part of the DMZ that's the stuff of movies, the Bridge of No Return.

(voice-over): The Korean Peninsula has close to two million active troops with North Korea's military reaching over one million and South Korea with close to 700,000. In South Korea, a 26-month military service is mandatory. Men there typically attend two years of college, serve in the military for two years, then complete their college education after that. Eighty percent of the South Korean guards at (unintelligible) are black belts in the marshal art of Tae Kwon Do.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): If you saw the latest James Bond movie, "Die Another Day," then you may remember the Bridge of No Return but that was a movie set. This is the real thing.

(on camera): It got its name at the end of the Korean War when tens of thousands of prisoners of war were brought here to be exchanged and they were given a choice. They could either stay where they were or cross over but once they did they could never come back.

The last time the bridge was used was in the late 1960s when the U.S. crew of the ship Pueblo, captured by the North Koreans, was returned through here. The border runs right through the center of the bridge. Come on, I'll show you, but first let me point out the sign over here.

This is the military demarcation line sign. It's the last indicator that you're about to head into no man's land. Those signs are spaced along the DMZ about every couple hundred yards and it would be easy if you didn't see them to possibly accidentally wander across the border.

The South Korean government has been wanting to repaint the signs or maybe replace them with something brighter but so far they haven't gotten the permission of the North Korean government to do that.

We can only walk on this bridge escorted by South Korean and U.S. soldiers and the reason for that is pretty obvious. It's right at the other end because that is a North Korean guard post, a manned North Korean guard post.

The bridge itself has over the years fallen into disrepair and there are actually some fears that it may not last that much longer and, in fact, the U.S. government has offered to come forward and to repair the bridge to try and preserve it as a part of history but there again so far the North Koreans haven't really gone for the whole idea.

Here you can see right up here this brown strip. That is the border and this is about as far as we can safely go. In fact, the North Koreans get a bit nervous when they see a lot of people on the bridge. It's probably not a good idea that we stay here that much longer.

It's just off the Bridge of No Return that one of the most infamous incidents of the DMZ took place in 1976. At that time, U.S. soldiers were overseeing a South Korean work crew that was cutting down a tree at this exact spot. The tree had been interfering with a view from checkpoint three where we were earlier down to the Bridge of No Return.

The North Koreans attacked killing two American officers. It's never been clear exactly why the North Koreans did what they did. Some speculate that they may have believed their own propaganda that the tree had been planted by their then President Kim Il-Sung and that the cutting down of the tree was seen as an attack on him. Whatever the reason it only goes to show how the simplest of acts can have deadly consequences in the DMZ.

Memories of problems in the past still burn brightly in the minds of soldiers here in the DMZ because it serves to remind them of just how dangerous this place is, but in South Korea in general, memories have begun to fade and minds have begun to change and the perception of who is the good guy and who is the bad guy has been turned upside down.

(voice-over): At the sprawling Korean War Memorial and Museum, South Korea's past and future hold hands. Yu Chung Hi knows his granddaughter is too young to understand the North Korean invasion 50 years ago left their country in ruins and close to two million people dead including 37,000 U.S. soldiers, but he believes it's not too early to try to teach her.

The hard fact is 80 percent of South Korea's population has no living memory of that terrible time. One look on the streets of Seoul tells you that. Anti-American protests have been on the increase. In the minds of these young people it's the United States that's the threat not the North.

"I think the U.S. is our enemy" says this young man.

At the same time, just across the same city the American flag waves proudly in Korean hands at a pro-U.S. demonstration. How did South Korea become so divided? The answers stare at you in the face.

Besides their words there is another key difference between these two demonstrations. Can you see it? It's the age of the people involved. Opinion polls show that those who lived through the war still look favorably on the United States while many of those who didn't don't, and it's the younger generation that's coming to power, led by this man President Roh Moo Hyun.

Elected in January it was the 40 and under crowd that put him in office, otherwise known as the 386-ers. The three stands for their age. Most are in their 30s. Eight stands for the '80s when they were in college and six when they were born, the '60s. Their views of how to handle North Korea is vastly different from the Bush administration's tough stance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These 386-ers believe that North Korea should be seen as a brother, as a friend, and as someone you have to work closely with in order to bring about Korean unification.

SAVIDGE (on camera): Never before have Seoul and Washington seemed so far apart and experts say the timing couldn't be worse, exactly when the United States and South Korea need to be unified in dealing with the north.

(voice-over): Min Li Chung (ph) believes the 386-ers are misguided due to an unexpected consequence of their parents' sacrifice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have never known poverty, have never known war, have never known hardship and so their world view, I would argue, in many respects is the armchair world view.

SAVIDGE: It's that view which also troubles the grandfather at the war memorial. He knows his granddaughter is too young to understand the past but he is getting older and time is running out to try.

(on camera): Still to come on DANGEROUS DIVIDE, if the DMZ is such a dangerous place how come it's got a golf course, swimming pool, tennis courts, even a gift shop? It's another strange twist in the DMZ story.


SAVIDGE: Most of the U.S. and South Korean soldiers that protect this part of the DMZ live at Camp Bonifas which is located just outside the demilitarized zone. It's named in honor of Captain Art Bonifas who was one of those soldiers killed during the tree cutting incident. As far as front line military bases go, like the DMZ, Camp Bonifas has some surprises of its own.

(voice-over): Camp Bonifas is the northernmost U.S. military base in South Korea located just 400 yards outside the DMZ. Here over 650 U.S. and Republic of Korea troops train side by side to maintain a razor's edge of readiness. Like any front line base it has many things you'd expect and a few you might never guess.

(on camera): Wow, how far away do you think that is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's about 195 yards Marty.

SAVIDGE: What do you think the biggest danger is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, Marty, off to the left that's probably as dangerous as you're going to get.

SAVIDGE: Yes, all right, I'll give it a shot.

(voice-over): Camp Bonifas is home to the world's most dangerous golf course. It's really just a single par three but the hazards, like the gunfire, are real. Go too far to the left and you're in the mine field, too far right and you're in the bunkers.


SAVIDGE: By the same measure, Bonifas has the world's most dangerous tennis court, the most dangerous volleyball court, most dangerous swimming pool, most dangerous barber shop, even the most dangerous gift shop.

(on camera): Look at this. You can even buy a little barbed wire from the DMZ.

(voice-over): Bonifas has all of these things because of this. It is one of the few prominent military bases in the world today where soldiers must be ready to fight a full blown war in just 90 seconds, an intense state of readiness they've maintained not just for weeks or months but over 50 years.

LT. COL. MATT MARGOTTA, CMDR. JOINT SEC. BATTALION: Sixty percent of my soldiers are from the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) army, 40 percent from the United States and together jointly we secure the joint security area as well as our area of the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

SAVIDGE: Bonifas has another unique quality. Every officer and soldier has been handpicked. Commanders realized long ago it takes a special breed to deal with the tension of guarding of the tip of the spear while facing a million plus North Korean soldiers.

The golf course and everything else is a welcome distraction but should any soldier forget where they stand in the event of war they need only look at the camp's water tower and motto which reads "in front of them all." (on camera): When I first came to the DMZ I didn't really know what to expect, maybe something like the Berlin Wall, which as we've shown you it is not. And, when I first got to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I was anxious that the slightest misstep could trigger Armageddon.

But the more time you spend at the DMZ, well the more at ease you become and that, soldiers say, is the greatest danger of all, complacency, forgetting that nearby there are two million soldiers ready to destroy each other tonight if given the order.

But there have been incidents along the DMZ, even full blown battles and they have not escalated into war. The truth is for a half a century the DMZ has worked protecting a fragile peace along a dangerous divide.

I'm Martin Savidge. Thanks for joining us.



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